What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
I know a lot of people want me to complain about the refs, but I'm not going to. What you get is what you get, and I don't know what else you guys could have expected with Joey Crawford refing the game. But for the love of apples, this game was painful to watch. Foul after foul after foul. At least with Game 2, the fouls were off-ball and didn't always result in FT. Tonight, there were 60 free throws taken, and the game went on for three hours. With the repetitive commercials of that stupid German boss and left out seventh wheel guy, I wanted to pull my hair out.
When I look at losses, I always look at offense first. There are going to be games where the Lakers step up and get their points, one way or the other. And to be honest, there were some Thunder plays we all groaned at. Westbrook's threes and reckless transition jumpers, for instance. When's the last time the Honey Badger attacked the basket? It's like he married that jumper during the off-season. Fisher missed a lot of shots up close without drawing any fouls, which is just frustrating. Collison almost never touched the ball. Sefolosha and Ibaka saw a lot of shots clank. It's hard to point the blame in one place. Two of our stars came through, but a lot of puzzle pieces were just slightly malformed. It's like looking at the Mona Lisa with a blank background. Sure, the woman's nice, but where's the pizzazz?
What was tonight's turning point?
If we're going to talk about strictly endgame play, you've got to be a little bit upset with Serge Ibaka. His jumper was off all game, and he already drew the ire of Thunder fans everywhere by missing a contested corner three. So with Durant driving the ball and the Thunder down by 1, Ibaka receives a desperation pass. Since he had enough space, he decided to shoot the ball, as everyone held their breath. He missed. Next possession, KD misses the three to tie the game, with single digit seconds to go. Ibaka rebounds the ball, and decides to go up with it. Again, everybody groans. He's blocked, and the Thunder lose. Again, I'm not saying Ibaka shouldn't take those jumpers once or twice a game....but when it gets down to crunch time and he knows he's cold, the man just needs to defer or get down low.
What was, overall, the main reason the Thunder lost?
Some well-drawn fouls by Kobe and Bynum. To be honest, Perkins, Harden, and Sefolosha were all playing extremely tough defense, and the only time I remember Kobe sinking jumpers is when Fisher was mistakenly put on him. But they did their best to draw the contact by being aggressive, and it paid off. A few calls were questionable, but there's no question they did a good job of drawing contact, no matter how small that contact was.
You've also gotta credit the Laker supporting cast with stepping up tonight. Steve Blake was nearly perfect offensively after blowing a huge shot in Game 2, and wasn't too much of a defensive liability. Metta World Peace hit some key free throws. Ramon Sessions pretty much fueled the Lakers in the first, cutting through the Thunder defense like cheese. Lastly, Jordan Hill had a couple of really epic blocks at the rim.
What is a key statistic to understanding tonight's game?
The Lakers were 26-27 from the stripe in the second half, while only shooting 11-34 from the field. (Credit to HPBasketball and J.A. Sherman.) That pretty much says it all.
What does this game mean for the Thunder today and moving forward?
The loss lessens the Thunder advantage to only 2-1, heading into tomorrow's game at Staples. It
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant, for being a monster on offense and coming THIS close to hitting the game-tying shot.
Thunder Down Under: James Harden. To the Line.
Thunder Blunder: Derek Fisher. He was a defensive liability, and his shooting was terrible.
Thunder Plunderer: Kobe Bryant, 18 FT.
Next Game: At the Los Angeles Lakers, Saturday, May 19th, 9:30 PM Central Daylight Time